Category Archives: Cilantro

I ate a taco.

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Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Every recipe has a backstory. Here’s how pork chops cooked on a bed of mushrooms with cotija cheese came to be:

Like most great dishes, inspiration didn’t manifest, it accumulated, beginning, innocuously, with the purchase of two, thick-cut, bone-in pork chops. Something to have on-hand for dinner. But, rather than cook the pork chops, my husband Jason and I went out to dinner at DC’s newly-opened El Rey taqueria. The queso con hongos tacos, filled with rich, earthy mushrooms and crumbly cotija cheese were delicious. We ordered a second round.

The next day I thought, “I really should cook those pork chops before they go bad. I wonder how they’d taste with cotija and mushrooms?” Remembering a Silver Palate cookbook recipe for chicken cooked on a bed of mushrooms, I scanned it briefly for technique and roasting temperature.

The first attempt: since I planned to cover the roasting dish with foil, I browned the pork chops first in a pan. Then promptly ignored my own fabulous advice about cooking mushrooms in batches to avoid crowding the pan. The result? A baking dish filled with a soupy layer of wilted mushrooms topped with seared pork chops . We agreed the dish was worth repeating, but that most of the flavor ended up in the liquid in the bottom of the baking dish. We also thought the thick-cut chops got a little thin on flavor toward the center.

The second attempt: A quick and painless brine for the pork chops added all the flavor we needed. Cooking the mushrooms in batches until golden-brown on the edges minimized the broth in the baking dish. Increasing the scallion greens and cilantro from a garnish to a solid sprinkling provided a welcome fresh balance to the earthy mushrooms, sweet, mild pork and the light tang of the cheese.

It’s a winner. I wonder if it would make a good taco?

Baked Pork Chops And Mushrooms With Cotija

Serves 4

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup kosher or sea salt
  • 4 thick-cut, bone-in pork chops
  • 2 cups chicken stock, boiling
  • 1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
  • 3-5 tbs olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 4 scallions, white and green parts chopped separately
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1.5 lbs crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tbs dried epazote or oregano
  • 2 tbs chili powder, like guajillo
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup crumbled cotija cheese, or feta

Directions:

  • Dissolve salt in 8-10 cups cold water. Add pork chops to brine and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes, up to 2 hours.
  • Pour boiling stock over mushrooms. Let sit for 20 minutes. When reconstituted, strain liquid through a paper-towel lined sieve, reserving the liquid. Rinse mushrooms clean and chop finely.
  • Preheat oven to 375.
  • Drain and rinse pork chops. Pat dry and season both sides with salt and pepper.
  • Warm 1 tbs oil in a 12” skillet over med-high heat. Brown pork in two batches, about 3 minutes per side. Add an additional tablespoon of oil for second batch if needed. Reserve, tented with foil.
  • Add 2 tbs more oil to pan, reduce heat to medium. Add onion and scallion whites. Cook until softened. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer.
  • Add mushrooms to pan in a single, thin layer, about half of them. Cook until mushrooms begin to brown on edges. Reserve mushrooms.
  • Return pan to heat, and add an additional tablespoon of oil. Add remaining mushrooms and cook until edges are golden brown. Return reserved mushrooms, along with chopped porcinis to pan. Add reserved porcini liquid and cook until reduced and thickly coating mushrooms.
  • Season mushroom mixture with epazote, chile powder, and 1/4 cup cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Place mushrooms in bottom of 9” square or 9 x 11″  baking dish. Top with pork chops and cheese. Cover with foil and bake at 375 until done, about 20 minutes.
  • Serve topped with scallion greens and remaining cilantro.

A little American innovation.

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Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Norman Rockwell drew an illustration for the Mass Mutual insurance company titled “Cookout.” As mothers and children set the picnic table, fathers hover around the grill. Nowhere is there any food.

But imagine, give me your very best Family Feud guess as to what will appear on those quintessential American plates.

Burgers, of course, and corn on the cob. What’s on top of those burgers? A single square of cheese melting into the smoky, crevices in the beef patty. Theres a plate of iceberg lettuce available for topping, and if it’s a really good day, mom has fried up some bacon.

This burger, then, is not so far from American tradition. The corn, off-the-cob and tossed with bacon, tops the burger. Baby spinach replaces lettuce and our cheese is upgraded to a far-more-American cheddar. It’s fun, delicious and a little creative.

Maybe that’s why Mr. Rockwell left the plates empty. There’s nothing more American than taking traditions, making some changes, and making them our own.

Corn and Bacon Salsa Burger

Using beef with some fat makes this burger rich and moist. These are big burgers and could certainly be made into 6 smaller patties.

makes 4 large 1/2 pound burgers

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds ground beef 80% lean
  • 4 slices thick cut bacon, minced
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup parsley
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 pound cheddar cheese, sliced
  • 4 Kaiser rolls
  • 1/4 pound baby arugula
  • 1 cup Corn and Bacon Salsa (see below)

Directions:

  • Mix together ground beef, bacon, eggs, parsley and cilantro. Season with salt and pepper and form into four large patties.
  • Heat your grill to medium-high and grill your burgers just off to the side of the coals. These are big patties, so you’ll probably cook them for 5-7 minutes a side for medium rare.
  • Place a slice or two of cheese on burgers 1 minute before removing from grill.
  • Layer bun bottoms with arugula and burgers. Top each with 1/4 cup corn and bacon salsa and bun top.
  • If there’s not juice running down your chin, you’re doing it wrong!

Corn and Bacon Salsa

For a nuttier, toastier flavor, toss corn kernals with 1 tbs olive oil and 1/4 tsp cumin and roast in a 400 degree oven until golden, about 7-10 minutes. Add right before seasoning the salsa. Serve this over grilled, cumin-lime marinated chicken or with chips.

Makes about 1 1/2 cups salsa

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Ingredients:

  • 5 slices, thick cut bacon
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, minced
  • 2 ears corn, kernels removed
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • Sherry  or Roasted Red Pepper Blackberry* vinegar

*Where do you get Roasted Red Pepper Blackberry vinegar? Sapore, of course! You can order online too.

Directions:

  • Fry bacon in a large skillet over medium heat until browned on both sides. Remove from pan and dry on paper towels. Leave 2 tbs bacon fat in pan.
  • Return heat to medium and add red onion. Cook until softened.
  • Add red onion and jalapeño. Sauté 3 additional minutes.
  • Add raw corn, increase heat to medium high, and cook for 3-5 minutes until edges of corn turn golden.
  • Stir in cilantro, cumin and chili powder. Remove salsa from heat.
  • Chop bacon and stir into salsa.
  • Season to taste with a splash of vinegar, salt and pepper. Add additional cumin or chili powder as needed.

Golumbki.

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Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Growing up, golumbki (pronounced ga-WUMP-ki) frequently graced our dinner table. Beef and rice, wrapped in cabbage leaves and baked in tomato sauce, would arrive to the table alongside bottles of ketchup and cider vinegar. Babci (my Polish grandmother) or Cioci Mary (her sister) would send them home in a casserole dish, or Mom would wrap and bake them in our kitchen. In case of emergency, there was always a foil pan tucked away somewhere in the basement freezer.

While this may seem the obvious origin for combining earthy chard, spicy chorizo and herbed rice, it’s not.

The recipe began with a bag of young Rainbow Chard leaves from Gardener’s Gourmet. The grounded, green flavor begged for fat and spice, bestowed by Mexican Chorizo sausage, smokey with pimentón, from the meat case at Canales. Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian for Everyone pointed to pairing cilantro with chard, which reminded me of arroz verde – rice infused with a paste of fresh herbs. The resulting pairing, splashed with Sapore’s Cava Rosé vinegar, was delicious. A kitchen victory!

Maybe I’ll try it with ketchup.

Chorizo and Chard with Green Rice

Serves 6-8

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 3 Mexican Chorizo sausages
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 pound young chard
  • 1 tsp Sherry or Cava Rosé* vinegar
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

*A new arrival at Sapore Oil and Vinegar.

Directions:

  • Warm oil in a large skillet. Remove sausage from casings and add to pan.
  • Cook, crumbling sausage until browned. Remove sausage from pan with a slotted spoon.
  • Add onion to pan and cook until softened, 3-5 minutes.
  • Add chard to pan and cook until wilted.
  • Return sausage to pan, with vinegar and cilantro. Mix.
  • Season to taste with salt, pepper and additional vinegar.

Green Rice

Photography by Sam Armocido

Photography by Sam Armocido

Ingredients:

  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 cup mixed herbs like cilantro, parsley and chives
  • 2 tbs dry sherry
  • 1 tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup rice

Directions:

  • Place garlic, herbs and sherry in a blender or food processor with 1/4 cup water. Purée.
  • Warm olive oil in a 2 quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Add rice and cook 3-5 minutes until golden brown on edges.
  • Add garlic-herb past and cook an additional 2-3 minutes until herbs mellow and liquid is absorbed.
  • Add 2 cups water to pan. Cover and bring to a simmer. Turn heat to low and cook until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes.
  • Turn off heat and let rest for 10 minutes.
  • Fluff with a fork and serve topped with Chorizo and chard.